Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bishop DiMarzio Throws A Hissy Fit Over The Gay Marriage Vote In New York

It sounds like Bishop DiMarzio never learned to deal with not getting his own way.  Perhaps he should have a random tantrum fruit cup and call it a day.  Well, maybe not a fruit cup, maybe the cranky pants french toast. But I suspect there's more to his tantrum than just losing a political battle.  Perhaps it's how the USCCB lost this particular battle.  But first DiMarzio's tantrum.

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have deconstructed the single most important institution in human history. Republicans and Democrats alike succumbed to powerful political elites and have passed legislation that will undermine our families and as a consequence, our society. (I kind of thought war did that, but what do I know?

With this vote, Governor Cuomo has opened a new front in the culture wars that are tearing at the fabric of our nation. At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to stay in their homes and find jobs, we should be working together to solve these problems. However, the politicians have curried favor with wealthy donors who are proponents of a divisive agenda in order to advance their own careers and futures.  (Well, maybe NOM should change it's name to National Organization for Jobs.)

What is needed in our state is leadership and not political gamesmanship. (What if your political gamesmanship had won, would you still call this political gamesmanship?)

In light of these disturbing developments and in protest for this decision, I have asked all Catholic schools to refuse any distinction or honors bestowed upon them this year by the governor or any member of the legislature who voted to support this legislation. Furthermore, I have asked all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration. (The ole 'take you ball and run home' response.)

The above request is intended as a protest of the corrupt political process in New York State. More than half of all New Yorkers oppose this legislation. Yet, the governor and the state legislature have demonized people of faith, whether they be Muslims, Jews, or Christians, and identified them as bigots and prejudiced, and voted in favor of same-sex “marriage.” It is mystifying that this bill would be passed on the last day of an extended session under the cover of darkness. (Only because your side held up the vote for ever and ever and ever.)

This issue has been framed as upholding marriage equality. This is not the case since one of the principal purposes of marriage is to bring new life into the world. This cannot happen in same-sex marriage. It is not a civil rights issue, but rather a human rights issue upholding the age-old understanding of marriage. Our political leaders do not believe their own rhetoric. If they did, how in good conscience could they carve out any exemption for institutions that would be proponents of bigotry and prejudice?  (Yes it can.  Lesbians do it all the time, but then your real issues aren't with lesbians, are they?  And you and your fellow bishops were the ones who insisted legislators carve out exemptions the make you the proponents of bigotry and prejudice.)


It seems I keep writing that in this incoming new understanding of human consciousness that the traditionalists will get sillier and sillier as they get more and more desperate.  DiMarzio must be pretty desperate because this tantrum is pretty silly.  Especially the last line of his diatribe.  It could be that I am totally misunderstanding his point, but I've read this a number of times and keep coming up with the same understanding.  It's their own insistence on these religious exemptions that make them look like bigots and maybe that's because they are bigots. The USCCB could have just trusted that the State of New York had enough sense to make the legal separation of sacramental marriage vs civil marriage two distinct concepts.  It is after all, federal as well as state law.  Traditionally, these two views of marriage were separate, and in fact the state recognized marriage as a contract long before the Church recognized it as a sacrament.  But then what do laity know?

I would like to give DiMarzio credit for enforcing his blanket ban on Republican and Democratic politicians on church property, but I suspect certain politicians who voted 'right' will be allowed to give and accept awards.  My guess is these will be for pro life kinds of things.  DiMarzio wouldn't want to look too hypocritical.  I also suspect his fellow members in the USCCB are not too happy with his single sided broadside blast.  It makes them all look like proponents of bigotry and prejudice.  Maybe they are---at least the ones who aren't retired.

And one last little correction.  DiMarzio states in this tantrum "more than half of all New Yorkers oppose this legislation." That's not true.  Here's the headline from an article in the January 27, 2011 New York Daily News:

Gay marriage supported by record number of New York voters: 56% according to new poll  ----This is the NY Daily News, not the NY Times.

But there was something else I wondered about. Why was DiMarzio so insistent that big money paved the way. I took this to mean bigger money than the Roman Catholic Church had brought in for the support of Republican legislators. Turns out this was true. Big, usually Republican money, did, in fact play a very big part. And Democratic Governor Cuomo was the real leader in this effort. The following is from

....Would the donors win over the deciding Senate Republicans? It sounded improbable: top Republican moneymen helping a Democratic rival with one of his biggest legislative goals.
But the donors in the room — the billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined by the hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Dan Loeb — had the influence and the money to insulate nervous senators from conservative backlash if they supported the marriage measure. And they were inclined to see the issue as one of personal freedom, consistent with their more libertarian views.
Within days, the wealthy Republicans sent back word: They were on board. Each of them cut six-figure checks to the lobbying campaign that eventually totaled more than $1 million.

I also think the article hits on the real reason for DiMarzio's tantrum as the article goes on to say this:

The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples.
But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.

The days of Roman Catholic Bishops having a huge say in how the United States of America politically operates is over. The game has changed and they are not the players they once were--even in the Republican party. This is all probably indicative of how the abuse crisis has affected their moral voice, but more than that, I think it's indicative of how far out of touch they are with where society is moving. It isn't about sexual acts. Married heterosexual couples engage in contraception and the same kinds of sexual acts as gay couples. Maybe, finally, it's about validating love. That's a good thing. That's a Jesus thing. 



  1. Why do they act like, just because gay people are going to get legally hitched, heterosexual unions are suddenly going to stop or dry up and go infertile or something?

    How has any institution been "deconstructed"? I'm pretty certain people are going to continue wanting to e have husband or a wife, create children and teach them a thing or two about how to survive...

    Civil marriage is simply not principally about creating families. This was acknowledged legally a long time ago, and it wasn't the gays who made that change. Nothing really changes with gay marriage legislation, it only acknowledges to the letter what has already been true culturally of the institution for some time.

  2. It's just plain old fear mongering. Gay marriage has no effect on whether John and Jane Doe keep their marriage together.

    Deconstruction only counts if one discounts love as the major reason most people get married and instead really believe it's all about fertile sexual acts.

    I'm loathe to think our bishops are fixated on sexual acts as opposed to relational love, but rationally I have to admit they seem fixated on sexual acts as opposed to relational love. Oh well, in theory they've given up both so I guess they can be totally confused on these two issues. And also wrong.

  3. Spiritual Marriage is when two people decide to commit to one and other for an expected life time of personal relationship.

    Civil marriage is when this marriage is registered with the state as a contract.

    Seems to me this NY Bishop (as well as most RCC Bishops) now have little to say about either civil or spiritual marriage. Congratulations Bishops, you have taken yourself out of the market place of decisions. Just as for celebrating the Eucharist, we do not need clerics to witness marriage. Both of these sacraments can be carried out just fine ---- no clerics present. There was a time when clerics were welcome!

    This Bishop is having a fit when he should be learning that people will no longer listen to the flimsy homophobia or sexual amorality as demanded by the RCC Magisterium.

    My only fear is that these empty miters will now attempt to push another poorly thought out agenda about birth control and birth control pills. They will only show the People of God how foolish they are in the long run, but they will attempt to throw up barriers in the short run. I hope Gays will stay united against these unreasonable homophobes and would be "gyno-moralists." The heterosexual community that has helped the gays hope that the gays will help the heterosexual community when it comes to the Bishops who actually believe they know more of embryology than do the scientists. We helped the gays because the Bishops made no sense, we hope that the gays, parents and brothers and sisters of gays (especially wealthy ones, will continue to understand that this current crop of RCC Bishop makes little ethical sense. dennis

  4. Why don't DiMarzio and his fellow bishops take all that excess energy and use it toward encouraging economic justice and improving the employment outlook? Oh well, like a good many members of Congress, they are looking out for the big money boyz to the detriment of the rest of us. I think NOM should redirect its energies toward job creation rather than denying people their rights.

  5. Who is this Bishop DiMarzio? I’ve never heard of him. I probably could find out quickly, but don’t care to. As you say, Colleen, some of these people are getting sillier and sillier.

    Anyhow, I am absolutely honored that DiMarzio thinks I belong to a political elite. I have not been aware of that lately.

    I also had difficulty understanding what DiMarzio meant by his last sentence in which he wonders how these legislators were acting in good conscience if they carved out exemptions for religious groups.

    On the one hand DiMarzio seems to mean that the legislators were protecting bigots and prejudice which would be wrong. So the legislators were not acting in good conscience. On the other hand, I like to think that law for marriage equality and the exemptions really reflect many legislators struggling with their consciences and then acting in good conscience which DiMarzio would like to deny.

    I spent a good amount of time Friday night listening to a live feed from Albany of the Senate proceedings. One of the best speeches of the evening was the one by Senator Mark Grisanti, a Catholic and a republican. Grisanti said he applied reason to the issue, something which the bishops seem incapable of doing. Here is a link to Grisanti’s speech.

    Grisanti talked about his Catholic upbringing and how he struggled with the concept of marriage being between a man and a woman. He added that he was also an attorney and that the more he struggled with this issue and thought about it; he had to conclude that gay and lesbian people had these same rights to marriage that he and his wife had. In an earlier interview with a Buffalo newspaper Grisanti said: "If I take the Catholic out of me, which is hard to do, then absolutely they should have these rights," In the end, reason won out. In the person of Senator Grisanti, I witnessed a person struggling with his conscience and acting in good conscience. DiMarzio got it wrong!

  6. Bishop DiMarzio orates as if he is about to be forced to marry his Vicar General.

    Ironically, to his credit, he recognizes more than one principal purpose of marriage. He then focusses on only one, the procreative. It is the other principal purpose, the unitive, that allows him and his Church to bless marriages of heterosexual couples too old or otherwise definitively known to be incapable of reproduction. Capability to procreate is not an absolute prerequisite for marriage in the Catholic Church, as documentation (HV) and practice show.

    If human history and the cornerstones of civilization are at the mercy of the New York Sate legislature, more thoughtful, honest consideration is warranted. How one loses a battle sometimes reveals more about the contenders than winning. The New York Church leaders have put themselves in a difficult position for entering the next round, whatever that is (assuming civilization continues).

    Could some Latinist please remind me of the plural of "ad hominem".

  7. "The New York Church leaders have put themselves in a difficult position for entering the next round, whatever that is (assuming civilization continues)."

    Assuming civilization survives, I would hope they take that reprieve and begin to re evaluate what they are on about. Maybe they might consider their is a vast difference between sexual acts for selfish ends, and the very different concept of love between two people. I would suggest they read Salzman and Lawler, and this time with an eye to be educated rather than an eye to condemn.

  8. Colleen, this is just such a perfect posting--far and away the best response to DiMarzio, et al., that I've seen. It strikes just the right tone: cranky pants French toast, unhappy face pancakes, and a random tantrum fruit cup, indeed!

    As you rightly point out, "It's their own insistence on these religious exemptions that make them look like bigots and maybe that's because they are bigots." And so, isn't it delicious that DiMarzio tries to argue that the governor and the legislature are the ones responsible for turning DiMarzio, et al., into bigots?!

    They evidently want their bigotry and want to eat it, too. They want to BE bigots without being known as or called bigots.

    And what a totally un-leaderlike response: "Furthermore, I have asked all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration."

    NO state legislator--period--is to be invited to Catholic parish or school celebrations. Talk about an undignified, immature temper tantrum.

    One of the things I learned as an academic administrator (and a teacher) was NEVER to lay down a rule like that, which tries to punish a whole group of people without distinction, to make my own petty point.

    Because that behavior makes the one engaging in it look petty. Not like a bona fide leader at all.

  9. Brilliant post, Colleen. After the Bishop's breakfast, he certainly ended up with egg on his face!

  10. I agree with Bill and as Mary said, brilliant post. Excellent.

  11. The Bishop makes an excellent point - this is the latest mockery of marriage. The institution has been under attack for years and this was a broad shot.

    After this law, I fail to see any intellectually honest argument that polygamy should be illegal. Crazy? As crazy as gay marriage sounded 40 years ago. Any argument about "it has to be 2 people" or "nobody will ever vote for that" are outright funny now. Polygamists must simply argue they are a discriminated class, get some effective TV images (that is starting already)and Bob's your uncle.

    As for the polls, if they really reflected the popular appeal of this bill it would not have been passed under"emergency powers" that precluded debate on the issue.

  12. Dear Dennis Moore,

    As long as the civil law defines marriage as between two people, you, Dennis, are very wrong. Polygamy is a choice that people have made in the past that was made illegal. It may have been more useful when the population was low. Medical science and good sense shows that homosexuality is not a choice and we are indeed discriminating against homosexuals in all the other states that do not allow them to marry. There are religious practitioners that have pretended to “cure” homosexuals, but medicine and psychiatry have never defined it as a disease. It seems to be something very inherent to some individuals. In fact in some ways it serves to both help and protect the rest of society.

    The polls in NY and California have for several months indicated more than 50% favor letting gays marry.

    Your argument does not make sense to me even with all the logic courses that I took on Catholic campuses so many years ago, I can not follow your argument as logical. I have heard similar arguments in the past but they were just as illogical as what you are saying now.

    As for he Bishops, they were spending money not meant for political use trying to defeat this bill and should be held accountable by the lay people in the diocese. It is also clearly and incidence that Church is attempting to interfere with state governance. Perhaps if they are allowed to do that, then those churches should be taxed. dennis

  13. Dennis Moore, I find it interesting you see polygamy as the next big issue and leave out polyandry.

    In any event I see legal serial monogamy as the biggest mockery of marriage, at least as practiced by Catholics like Newt Gingrich. In that sense, as far as Church theology is concerned, we already have a legal form of polygamy. Gay marriage certainly won't have any effect on that trend in heterosexual marriage.

  14. @Dennis Moore: it appears from Bishop DiMarzio's remarks that the RC are already there for you on the polygamy angle.

    "It is not a civil rights issue, but rather a human rights issue upholding the age-old understanding of marriage."

    As anyone who reads the Bible knows, polygamy (but not polyandry, sorry Colleen) is the OT standard endorsed by G-d and enshrined in the books of the law, along with divorce. This whole one man/one woman thing is rather new, comparatively speaking.

    On a somewhat related note, I have a simple question for the assembled which I'd like help with. Would you take legal advice from someone who has never been in a courtroom or medical advice from a doctor who has never actually practiced medicine? Then why take marriage counsel from someone who never has nor will be married or sex advice from someone who has never known the touch of another?

  15. The Trad sites are electric with how these GOP Senators were "bought off" by wealthy Wall St. types. Funny, though, their side never, ever buys off anyone. They're also in a dizzy because, in their view, the NY bishops have not done enough to "punish" these legislators. They want them all excommunicated. Ah, to live in such an exclusionary world!

  16. I may go one step further than your commenters.The Church's basic position is 'sex is wrong.'But it can be justified if children are the outcome. This teaching (sex is bad) is absolutely vital to the 'I never have sex, even sex thoughts' that is the very essence of the priesthood. Absence from SEX is the very reason theclerics are morally superior to the laity and closer to God. Sure, I know JP2 and others act like Sex is good, BUT not as good as never having even a sex thought. Mark

  17. Mark, you're exactly correct in your observation. The attitude that sex is bad, only permissible when procreation occurs, harkens back to St. Augustine. He even hinted that "desire" (concupiscence) between a married couple is sinful and must be suppressed. Nowadays that's considered pathological, but Mother Church carries remnants of that thinking still.

  18. When I celebrate a marriage with a gay couple in the congregation (like Elton John and partner at the Royal Wedding) I do not feel that the couple are attacking or undermining marriage, rather they are enriching it. That is the way Catholic culture is developing today. Our hierarchs have cut themselves off from development.

  19. Joe, I noticed you got whacked big time at Commonweal. The discussion over there borders on high brow trailer trash.

    I can't remember off hand who wrote it, but the comment about the Church not taking the gut level emotional abomination road and staying on the rational high road sent me into hysterical laughter. NOM is on the reasoned high road? I guess if one is looking up from the depths of the sewer NOM is on the high road.